Europe, US Mark 70th Anniversary of VE Day

VOA News

Europe and the U.S. are marking Friday the 70th anniversary of what is known as Victory in Europe Day, or VE Day – the day in 1945 when Nazi troops laid down their arms, ending World War II on the continent.

In his weekly address, released early for the occasion, U.S. President Barack Obama paid tribute to those who served in the war, calling them “the generation that literally saved the world.”

Obama urged Americans today to rededicate themselves “to the freedoms for which they fought.”

French President Francois Hollande also called for unity, describing VE Day as “the victory of an ideal over a totalitarian ideology.” In Paris – the scene of massive celebrations in 1945 after Germany surrendered – President Hollande placed a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also took part in the ceremony.

In Britain, numerous remembrance ceremonies were taking place Friday, in addition to concerts and street parties meant to re-create the spirit of the celebrations 70 years ago. Prime Minister David Cameron was participating in the commemorations, while Queen Elizabeth will attend a VE thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey on Sunday.

In the United States, a large array of World War II aircraft was to fly over Washington Friday in honor of veterans in town for a ceremony at the World War II memorial.

Russia, meanwhile, will commemorate the end of the war with a huge parade Saturday on Moscow’s Red Square, attended by international dignitaries.

“Let’s make sure that we keep striving to fulfill our founding ideals—that we’re a country where no matter who we are or where we’re from or what we look like or who we love, if we work hard and take responsibility, every American will have the opportunity to make of our lives what we will,” the president said. “Let’s stand united with our allies, in Europe and beyond, on behalf of our common values—freedom, security, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law around the world—and against bigotry and hatred in all their forms so that we give meaning to that pledge: ‘Never forget.  Never again.'”

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